Peace in the Jungle

Dreams are really interesting to me. Until last year, I rarely remembered my dreams the next morning.

But then life happened. And then the nightmares happened. And then, with a lot of work and effort, growth happened.
Whether you believe in “meaning” behind dreams or not is fine with me either way, but I tend to explore some pretty applicable stuff in mine. I mean, I do have an English degree – I love a good symbol/theme!

In particular, my dreams over the last few days have been pretty beautiful. As you may or may not have read, I’ve encountered some substantial, life-affirming moments in recent weeks with my physical health (PI-IBS) and my mental health (PTSD). In my opinion, my dreams have reflected those moments.

Every night this week, I’ve “been in” a gorgeous jungle. I wake up in a comfy bed in a little tree house – except there is no way down, and the tree house is way on up there, y’all. Surprisingly, it doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, I’ve been quite peaceful about it. There was even one night when a nonthreatening, calm stranger was in the tree house with me when I woke up, and what did I do? Took the time to smile and introduce myself politely! (As a funny little side note, I introduced myself to my husband in real life – I’m a pretty avid sleepwalker/talker. He got a kick out of telling me about it the next morning.)

If you look at dream psychology/interpretations, there a few special nuggets I can glean from these recurring jungle dreams:

  1. The setting of your dreams often reflects your “inner” landscape. It’s pretty appropriate to say I’ve been living in a wild, unknown jungle over the last year and a half, so the fact that I’m completely comfortable and at peace with my “jungle” now says something cool about where I’m at mentally.
  2. The height aspect of my dream is even more affirming. In many cases, dreaming that you are comfortable in a high place can represent your self-empowerment, confidence, and strength, and pleasant height dreams often come after overcoming great obstacles. I would definitely say that is a good representation of how I feel with my life experiences right now.
  3. The friendly, calm stranger in my dream seems to have meaning, too. It feels appropriate that, in this serene jungle setting of mine, the people involved (including myself) are serene as well. What does my dream girl represent? Maybe an unknown future that’s there but doesn’t scare me anymore? Possibly the idea that I don’t feel surrounded by threats all the time these days? Or is it that I’m just at peace, come what may? I’m not sure, but all of the possibilities feel pleasant.

I appreciate that my nightmares have turned into enjoyable experiences – both at night while I sleep and during the day, as I live this new life of mine with successful PI-IBS management and without the repercussions of PTSD.

When I was first diagnosed with PI-IBS last year, a friend with Celiac told me it took her about a year before she felt truly comfortable with herself again. A year and a half into my journey, I can now say I feel that, too.

So, today, I simply want to take a moment to encourage you – particularly if you’re beginning to cope with a PI-IBS diagnosis or starting a PTSD recovery journey.

This is going to sound cliche, but I’ll say it anyway: if you are living in a nightmare right now, hold on and give it time. Whether it’s PI-IBS or PTSD or some other medical diagnosis, know that I feel your pain. I understand, deeply, the fear and the stress and the anger. I know that, post-diagnosis, the world seems to move on around you while you’re stuck in a swirling vortex of awful. I hurt with your hurt. I know the overwhelm of living a different life in the blink of an eye.

And I also know that, however long it takes, you’re going to get through it. Keep trying. Keep taking those steps. Keep doing the therapy. Keep learning the recipes. Keep fighting the fight. Keep taking care of yourself, no matter how long it takes or who moves on around you.

Keep doing it all. Because, one day, you’ll wake up feeling peaceful in your jungle.

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